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Transforming transit station parking lots

Now that some Metropass commuters are shunning TTC parking lots afternew charges began April 1, there’s a new question: What’s the long-termplan for these fields of asphalt?

Now that some Metropass commuters are shunning TTC parking lots after new charges began April 1, there’s a new question: What’s the long-term plan for these fields of asphalt?

The TTC and GO Transit stations with the most parking are often next to rail lines, hydro corridors or freeways. Much of this land is only suited to car storage but as the province pushes cities to intensify development along transit lines, more surface parking will disappear under new homes or businesses.

Local councils are already promoting development near GO stations — including some big projects in Oakville and Brampton.

Although under constant pressure from riders to expand parking, GO Transit just unveiled plans to make its stations more welcoming to those who arrive on foot, bike or local bus. At the same time, the regional transit agency is building multi-level parking structures at many stations.

GO is due to be merged with the planning body Metrolinx, and the new entity could support private construction next to (or even above) train stops and use the profit to expand transit service. The City of Toronto is also planning to sell more land near subway lines.

The past clearly shows how corruption can tempt developers, civil servants and politicians alike — but building near transit can benefit riders when the money is watched closely.

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As for the recent parking fee changes at TTC lots, the commission is expected to report soon on how many drivers have stayed away, and if Metropass sales are down as a result. I’ve been told of some glitches and lineups at parking entrances and one reader sent a photo of a half-empty lot at Finch station.

TTC chair Adam Giambrone reports that overall parking demand is expected to drop initially by 20 to 40 per cent. He states, “Ultimately, I would guess (utilization of the lots) will grow back to above 90 per cent over the next five or so years.”

To clarify previous stories, it appears TTC employees may not park for free at just three lots: Leslie, York Mills and Kennedy East.

– Toronto-based transport writer Ed Drass covers transit issues every Monday; transit@eddrass.com.

 
 
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